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The Best Way To Sleep After Wisdom Teeth Removal

Updated: Feb 6

Having your wisdom teeth extracted can certainly upend your usual night time routine. Are you going to be able to sleep the same way you did before having the procedure done?


impacted lower wisdom tooth with gums covering over it
impacted lower wisdom tooth

Well it definitely won't be quite the same for the first week or so. However what we can do is give you some tips on the best way to get a good night's sleep after the extraction. If you do these you'll wake up feeling more refreshed than if you didn't.


How to sleep after wisdom teeth removal:

  1. Ensure you're no longer bleeding.

  2. Take a hot shower.

  3. Use a cold compress.

  4. Take all prescription medications (painkillers and antibiotics).

  5. Elevate your head and go to sleep.


 

Make sure you're not bleeding

The first step and also the most important is to make sure you're no longer bleeding. If the wisdom tooth hole is still bleeding you are NOT PERMITTED to go to bed yet. You must get all bleeding to either stop or slow down to a light ooze before you can even think about going to sleep.


wisdom tooth socket
wisdom tooth socket

The most obvious reason for why you can't sleep if you're bleeding is because it is dangerous and potentially life threatening. What if you bleed to death in your sleep?! There is a chance that may happen which is why you absolutely cannot go to bed until you've fully stabilized.


How to stop the wisdom tooth bleeding

The best way to get the bleeding to stop after a wisdom tooth extraction is by using gauze. You simply bite into it and apply pressure to the socket. After about 3 hours or so it should stop oozing.


How to use gauze:

  1. Take 2-3 pieces of gauze together.

  2. Fold them in half twice into a small square.

  3. Place the gauze over the wisdom tooth hole.

  4. Bite down with firm pressure and do not let go.

  5. Remove the gauze after 30 minutes.

  6. Repeat steps 1-5 until it stops bleeding.


In case you were wondering if you can or should sleep with gauze in your mouth, the answer is a firm NO. There is an aspiration risk if you do so. In other words it is a choking hazard because you may potentially swallow it while asleep.


Take a hot shower or bath

People often wonder if they can shower after having their wisdom tooth removed. You can and you should because the hot shower or bath can help you relax and calm down after the stressful day that you've been through. Having the third molars removed is certainly no walk in the park.


Maybe this is you or maybe it is not but we do have some patients who become mentally traumatized after the procedure. They start shivering and quivering right after finishing the treatment. They're not exactly cold but they just feel that way because they're in shock.


Taking a long hot bath or shower can certainly calm those nerves down and reset your mind. You'll definitely feel more comfortable and ready for bed after bathing. Besides, you probably want to get rid of the "dental office smell." While it's not terrible but some people aren't a big fan of it, especially if they go to an older office that uses a lot of eugenol.


Use a cold compress

If there is residual swelling, using a cold compress can help reduce it. Just make sure you alternate with having it 15 minutes on and 15 minutes off so that you don't end up with frostbite.


If you don't have a cold compress you can make your own:

  1. Wrap some ice cubes in a paper towel.

  2. Place all of it into a plastic zip lock bag.

  3. Apply the bag to the affected side of your face.

  4. Alternate 15 minutes on and 15 minutes off.


Take prescribed medications

If your doctor prescribed you medication, you should take them as directed. Typically after a wisdom tooth procedure you'll receive pain medication and also antibiotics.

  • The antibiotics will most likely be given if the wisdom teeth are impacted.

  • If they're not impacted you may not need antibiotics. Yes, believe it or not there are situations where you don't need it.


antibiotics and pain medication
antibiotics and pain medication

You do want to make sure you take your doses before going to bed so that the pain is kept under control while you're asleep. You don't want to wake up in the middle of the night in pain because you forgot to take the pain killers. That would certainly ruin your night and sleep!


Go to sleep

After you've finally finished all of the steps above, you are now ready to go to bed. There isn't any restriction on your sleeping position as long as you're no longer bleeding.


However most people would feel more comfortable if they elevated their head a little. The elevated position will prevent too much blood from rushing to the extraction site. That may make some people feel a little uncomfortable on the first few days after the procedure.


Permitted sleeping positions:

  • On your back.

  • On your side.

  • Sleep sitting up.


Some patients have asked if they should sleep sitting up after getting their wisdom teeth removed and the answer is no. If it makes you feel better you certainly can but for the vast majority of people, it is not necessary. An extra pillow for head elevation should be more than adequate.


To the best of our knowledge, we've never had any of our patients sleep while sitting up after the procedure. Although if you manage to do it, please do tell. We'd be interested in hearing about your experience and then we can change our writing here.


What to do upon waking

When you wake up you should gently brush your teeth. You should be able to rinse and spit the morning after since the blood clot will be stabilized. After that you can have your breakfast and get ready to take your next dose of the prescriptions if it is time. Also take a look in your mouth to see if there are any signs of infection or complications.


You can repeat all of these steps before going to bed for every night thereafter. Last but not least, don't forget to review all of the wisdom teeth aftercare instructions.

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About the author: Dr David Chen, DDS

Hello, I'm Dr Chen and I'm an actively practicing dentist in Long Island City, NY. I graduated from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in 2016 but prior to going to dental school I was already working in the dental field. It's been more than a decade since I first got to know dentistry and let me tell you, time flies by quickly. Since then I've developed a fondness for writing, which is how this all got started!

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Medical Disclaimer:

This blog is purely meant for information purposes and should not be used as medical advice. Each situation in your mouth is unique and complex. It is not possible to give advice nor diagnose any oral conditions based on text nor virtual consultations. The best thing to do is to go in person to see your dentist for an examination and consultation so that you can receive the best care possible.

The purpose of all of this oral health information is to encourage you to see your dentist and to inform you of what you may expect during your visit. Due to the unfortunate nature of dentistry, there isn't really any true home remedies that will get rid of dental problems. Roughly 99.99% of them require in-person intervention by a healthcare professional.

Hint: That is the reason why you can't eliminate seeing dentists in your life!

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